NERP: Spark Core – Warm and Fuzzy Computing

Monday Feb 17th at 7pm Jeff Camealy will present his talk “How to control your electric blanket with a Spark Core”. He describes his use case: “The Spark Core is a small Arduino compatible chip with built in WiFi and Cloud connectivity. This functionally can be used to easily create a device that can be controlled remotely. We’ll see how we can use the Spark Core Cloud to create an iPhone App to direct your blanket from the comfort of your .. blanket.”


Lest Jeff sell himself short, it should be said that he’s spotted a technology that’s powerful and significant, but also somewhat strange. Until now the Arduino programming environment hasn’t often been associated with cloud computing. It’s not clear to me whether this is a niche application, or the start of a trend in small embedded controllers. Not surprisingly, the ARM architecture continues to insinuate itself into every corner of embedded control. The Spark Core uses an STMicroelectronics STM32F103 ARM M3 running at 72 MHz. The WiFi is provided by a TI SimpleLink CC3000 module. If you don’t like the cloud you can use the Spark Core as an ordinary USB-programmed controller that has WiFi. The site contains these [edited] points to help in understanding what the Spark Core does:

The Spark Core is a tiny, open source Wi-Fi development board that makes it easy to create Internet connected hardware. The Core is all you need to get started; power it over USB and in minutes you’ll be controlling LEDs, switches and motors and collecting data from sensors over the Internet!

There’s no need to ever plug the Core into your computer; you can write code in our web IDE and download it wirelessly to the Core. The Core uses Wiring, the same programming language that Arduino uses. Plus, with an accessory called the Shield Shield, you can connect the Core to a standard Arduino shield.

The Cloud is the mother ship that the Spark Core connects to when it comes online. Once the Core is paired with the Cloud, it becomes accessible from anywhere in the world through our open but secure REST API. Cloud service comes free for life with the Core. [excerpts from]


Thanks to Drew Fustini and the kind folks at element14, we’ll have a drawing for a fully assembled Gertboard. “Gertboard is the ideal add-on for Raspberry Pi. Designed by Gert van Loo, it is a flexible experimenter board that plugs directly into your Raspberry Pi, and out into the physical world…” [element14]

NERP is not exclusively raspberry pi, the small computer interest group at Pumping Station:One in Chicago. Find NERP and Pumping Station:One

NERP meets every other Monday at 7pm at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago. Doors open at 6:30pm. The next meeting is Feb 17th, 2014. NERP is free and open to the public.

Ed Bennett ed @ kinetics and electronics com
Tags: electronics, embedded, NERP, Open Source, raspberry pi, hackerspace, Beagle Bone, Element14,
Pumping Station One

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